Live, work and play: Education to prevent exposure to safety hazards for Victorian teenagers on farms

Live, work and play: Education to prevent exposure to safety hazards for Victorian teenagers on farms

Young people are essential to an innovative, thriving agricultural industry – but they are exposed to a number of hazards on farms from young ages.

Helping out on the farm is great, but teenagers are often unaware of the health and safety risks and hazards.

The Gear Up for Ag  program for Australian secondary school students builds their understanding and knowledge of farm hazards and the impact on health, through tailored discussions and interactive demonstrations of safe practices to positively influence safety behaviours. Topics include agrichemical exposure, quad bike safety, machinery hazards, farm vehicle and animal safety, mental health and wellbeing, sun safety, and use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Trained facilitators and agrihealth professionals, provide real life experience and examples to link the importance of safety with health outcomes.

Funded by the Victorian Government’s Smarter Safer Farms program and delivered by the National Centre for Farmer Health, Gear Up for Ag  reached close to 400 students across 20 Victorian secondary schools, TAFEs, and agricultural colleges in 2021-22.

Gear Up for Ag has identified a clear need: most participating students lived or worked on farms, and over half were involved in farm tasks before nine years of age. Students reported being exposed to a large number of hazards including riding a quad bike on farm (83 per cent) —often carrying passengers and/or not wearing a helmet—driving a tractor (67 per cent) and working with large animals (77 per cent).

Gear Up for Ag  creates positive change in students’ attitudes and behaviours. Students reported the program increased their knowledge of farm hazards (97 per cent) and improved their own safety behaviours (65 per cent). Almost half of the students also reported that they changed the way they discussed farm safety with their family or friends and gained confidence to raise concerns about safety with others on their farm.

Register your school for 2023. Gear Up for Ag  is currently expanding—working with teachers, farmers and industry to develop new teaching resources and videos with tailored content to suit Australian teenagers.

To get Gear Up for Ag  to come to your local secondary school in 2023, please register your interest early by contacting Cecilia Fitzgerald at the National Centre for Farmer Health on 03 5551 8533.

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